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Get Lucky: How to Put Planned Serendipity to Work for You and Your Business

ISBN: 978-1-118-24975-8
288 pages
April 2012, Jossey-Bass
Get Lucky: How to Put Planned Serendipity to Work for You and Your Business (1118249755) cover image


A guide to getting luck on your side

As the pace of change accelerates and the volume of information explodes, we're under great pressure to connect just in time with the people and ideas we need to thrive. But we can no longer plan our way to success—there will always be factors beyond our control. This uncertainty, however, cultivates one of today's key drivers of success: serendipity. More than blind luck, serendipity can produce quantifiable results: breakthrough ideas, relationships that matter, effortless cooperation, synchronized market timing, and more. Get Lucky shows businesses how to succeed by fostering the conditions for serendipity to occur early and often.

  • Distills planned serendipity into eight key elements: preparedness, motion, activation, attraction, connection, commitment, porosity, and divergence
  • Features stories of serendipity in action at well-known companies including Avon, Target, Steelcase, Google, Facebook, Walmart, and more
  • Written by serial entrepreneurs and cofounders of Get Satisfaction, a breakout platform for online customer service communities with over 100,000 clients

Planned serendipity is not an abstract, magical notion, but a practical skill. Get Lucky is the indispensable resource for anyone who wants to learn this skill and to make serendipity work for them.

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Table of Contents

1 Prepare for the Unpreparable 1

2 Skill: Motion—Breaking Out 29

3 Skill: Preparation—Anatomy of a Geek Brain 53

4 Skill: Divergence—The Garden of Forking Paths 81

5 Skill: Commitment—Burning the Ships 103

6 Skill: Activation—Church vs. Stadium 127

7 Skill: Connection—Needle in a Haystack 157

8 Skill: Permeability—Storming the Castle 177

9 Skill: Attraction—Magnetic Fields 203

10 Unraveling the Double Bind 227

Serendipiography 235

Acknowledgments 261

About the Authors 263

Index 265

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Author Information

Thor Muller is the cofounder andformer chief technology officer of GetSatisfaction, a groundbreaking online customer community platform used by over 65,000 companies. A five-time serial entrepreneur, Thor also started one of the world's first Web design agencies in 1995, later acquired by Frog Design.

Lane Becker has been working onthe Web since it began, from settingup web sites at his university in 1994 to cofounding Adaptive Path, the world'sfirst user experience design firm, andGet Satisfaction. Lane is also an advisor to Freestyle.vc, an early-stage Internet venture capital fund.

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“You’ve heard the old saw, ‘Chance favors prepared minds.’ Well, Get Lucky is the mind-preparer. This entertaining and practical book makes it clear that luck isn’t just for the lucky anymore.”
—Dan Heath, co-author, Switch and Made to Stick

“Louis Pasteur and Thomas Jefferson would have endorsed this book. It's a profound explication of an idea they each shared, that luck isn't random, and that you can create the conditions where it flourishes. It's a refreshing reminder that the spark of human creativity leaps into flame when we establish the right conditions.”
—Tim O'Reilly, CEO of O'Reilly Media

“We live in a world that is more and more volatile and unpredictable, where ‘luck’ plays an increasingly central role. By the end of this book, you will never again view planning luck as a contradiction, but rather as an imperative that cannot be ignored. Whether in your personal life or professional life, open yourself up to the profound possibilities of serendipity.”
—John Hagel, co-chairman, Center for the Edge; and co-author, The Power of Pull

“Serendipity has been part of our not-so-secret sauce at Zappos from the very beginning. We've seen first-hand how breakthroughs are so often due to the spontaneous collisions between people and ideas. Get Lucky provides a framework for understanding how serendipity works, and shows how it can be used as a practice in life and business.”
—Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos.com, Inc.; bestselling author, Delivering Happiness

“In a fast-moving world, seemingly random customer comments on sites like Facebook can make your year or sink your ship. Get Lucky prepares you and your organization well to recognize and act on these serendipitous moments. Don't leave your success to chance!”
—Charlene Li, Founder of Altimeter Group; author Groundswell and Open Leadership

“In business, we plan to avert disaster, launch products, and forecast financials, but rarely do we plan to ‘get lucky.’ Thor and Lane’s method of planned serendipity should be part of every innovator’s toolkit.”
—Beth Comstock, chief marketing officer, GE

“Customers already run your company-and are moving farther out of your control every day. Fortunately, Thor and Lane are here to explain why this is the best possible thing that can happen, and how to make the most of it.”
—Doc Searls, co-author, The Cluetrain Manifesto and The Intention Economy

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Press Release

April 10, 2012
Drive business success by using one commonly overlooked skill: LUCK.

Have you ever envied a competitor who wins by sheer good fortune while you toil away to no end?

It turns out such companies were not blessed by a random stroke of success, but in fact have learned how to diligently harness that one far too overlooked skill: Luck.

In GET LUCKY:  How to Put Planned Serendipity to Work for You and Your Business (April 17, 2012; Jossey-Bass), Thor Muller and Lane Becker reveal that by practicing a specific set of skills we can help maximize luck so that it works in our favor.  Muller and Becker call this approach “planned serendipity.”

The book itself is a product of “planned serendipity.”  Inspired by their work at Get Satisfaction, the company they co-founded, Muller and Becker began to observe patterns exhibited by “lucky” companies and started their research into the interactions between luck, serendipity, chance, creativity, and business.  This research led the authors to identify eight essential skills necessary to create “planned serendipity”: motion, preparation, divergence, commitment, activation, connection, permeability and attraction.

Featuring case studies from such varied companies as 3M, Google, Pixar, Procter & Gamble, In-n-Out, PayPal, CERN tell scores of stories about leveraging luck:

  • It’s a myth that the $100 million a year Post-It note owes its success to luck. The conditions 3M created to harness “accidents” was no accident.
  • Steve Jobs designed the Pixar building promote the serendipitous collaboration and creativity has become a hallmark of Pixar’s success.
  • In-N-Out’s growth wasn’t due to undeserved luck, but instead a deliberate commitment to quality that allowed it to expand smartly unlike Krispy Kreme, whose more aggressive growth plans were far less successful.

Through these and many more examples, GET LUCKY shows how any organization can open up to outside people and ideas, discover unexpected insights by “living” with their customers peer to peer, and deliberately attracting chance collisions that will inspire creativity and new directions.

In a world like ours that is constantly in flux, we need to find a way to succeed while navigating the unpredictable.  GET LUCKY provides us with the skills to do just that.

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